Most people reach a point in their life when a garage sale becomes a necessity. You accumulate so much stuff over the years that eventually you have to part ways with some of it. While you could just chuck away whatever you don’t need anymore, it’s usually better to pass it onto someone else. After all, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
Of course, while garage sales are generally used for getting rid of old junk, they can be particularly poignant events for some people. If you’re trying to part ways with something that holds great sentimental value, a garage sale can actually be incredibly difficult to get through.
Valerie Watts found that out several years ago when she decided to sell a load of old baby stuff. She struggled to say goodbye to everything, from the toys to the clothes, because they were the last connection she had to the son she’d lost. The crib proved to be the hardest thing to get rid of, but she managed to sell it nevertheless. However, after seeing the pain Valerie was going through, the buyer decided to return it, albeit in a completely different condition.
Gone too soon
There’s no easy way to lose a child. Having to say goodbye to your flesh and blood when they’re so young is something that no parent should ever have to do.
However, Valerie Watts didn’t have any say in the matter when her son was cruelly taken from her in 2013. She still hasn’t gotten over the immense loss she experienced back then.
An unbearable pain
Valerie hadn’t even been able to hold her son in her arms before he’d passed away. The mother was nine months pregnant and on the verge of giving birth when she’d tragically lost her second child, Noah. In the days leading up to his passing, Watts had felt like something wasn’t right. She’d noticed that her baby wasn’t moving as much as he had been before, and it worried her.
Sadly, she was right to be concerned. It wasn’t long until she was in the hospital receiving the heartbreaking news that her child was no more. On July 22, she gave birth to her stillborn son through cesarean section, a day that Valerie will never be able to forget. After the doctors had removed Noah, the mother felt emptier than she ever had before in her life. How was she supposed to go on after this?
The painful reminders
In the days and weeks after her son’s tragic passing, Watts didn’t know what to do with herself. She was supposed to be having sleepless nights because her baby was keeping her up, not because her house was eerily silent. It didn’t help that there were so many reminders of her child everywhere she looked. Naturally, Valerie and her fiancé, Jimi, had tried to prepare for the boy’s arrival as much as possible.
They’d bought clothes for him to wear, toys for him to play with, and decorated a nursery for him to sleep in. They’d covered all the essentials, and even constructed a crib ready for their baby to use. However, no child was ever going to sleep in it now. They’d lost Noah before he’d even been able to make use of any of this stuff, and knowing that just made everything harder to bear.
Time to move on
Seeing all of Noah’s unused stuff put Valerie through fresh heartbreak every day. However, the mother couldn’t bring herself to get rid of anything, no matter how painful it was to look at. It all belonged to her son, and it was one of the only things keeping him in her life. So, rather than selling his stuff or throwing it away, Watts just left it all in the nursery.
That’s where it stayed for almost a year before she realized she had to do something about it. Although she’d never truly be able to move on from her loss, she could at least try and find a way to lessen the pain. Living in the past wasn’t going to bring Noah back. Plus, she still had a daughter – Nevaeh – who needed her mom to be there for her. Valerie couldn’t give up on her now.
Up for sale
Many months after losing her son, Watts finally found the strength to start moving forward with her life. She decided to sell most of the unused baby stuff in a garage sale, hopeful that someone in the neighborhood would be able to find a use for it. Parting with all of Noah’s possessions wasn’t going to be easy.
However, Valerie knew she needed to start letting go of the past if she wanted to move forward. That didn’t mean she was ready to get rid of everything, though. While all of the baby toys and clothes were priced up for people to buy, one thing stayed firmly out of the sale – Noah’s crib. For some reason, the mother just couldn’t bring herself to get rid of it. Even though her son had never slept in it, it still felt like the crib contained a little part of him.
Letting it slip away
However, despite Valerie’s intentions to keep the crib with her, the mother ended up selling it once the garage sale came around. It caught the eye of Gerald Kumpula, an elderly man who hoped to put the baby furniture to good use.
And he asked how much it was being sold for. Watts had initially told him that she wasn’t looking to part ways with the item. However, after a little persuasion, she agreed to give it up to Kumpula for a measly $2.
Full of regrets
The mother couldn’t quite believe what she’d done after Gerald walked away with her son’s crib. She’d given away the one thing she’d wanted to hold onto after Noah’s passing, and all for a few dollars.
A part of Valerie hoped that selling the crib would help her heart to heal, but she still found herself aching for her stillborn son. That’s why she was so relieved when Kumpula returned a week later with the crib, only it looked a little different. He’d turned it into a memorial bench!
Handy with his hands
It turned out that Gerald was pretty talented with his hands, and he enjoyed making furniture in his workshop. His latest hobby was crafting benches out of old headboards, and when he’d seen Valerie’s crib, he’d been inspired.
He figured there was a lot he could do with it, which is why he’d pushed Watts to sell it to him. At the time, he hadn’t realized the sentimental value behind the crib. His only thoughts had been on transforming the piece of furniture and giving it a new lease of life.
A special bond
Although he hadn’t understood Valerie’s attachment to the crib, he’d realized there was something special about it. When he’d asked the mother how much it was, her resistance had been pretty clear to see.
A part of her was obviously hesitant to give away the baby furniture, and Gerald had wondered why she felt so strongly about it. Had he known the truth, he never would have bought it in the first place. However, then he wouldn’t have been able to give the mother a gift she’d never forget.
The wrong end of the stick
Kumpula had assumed that Valerie’s hesitation in giving up the crib was because she didn’t want to let go of the past. While this was certainly true, he’d had no idea that she’d lost a child. He had merely assumed that Watts’ kid had grown up and therefore no longer had any use for all their baby stuff anymore.
The thought that Valerie’s son had been stillborn never even crossed his mind because it was too horrible a thing to consider – no-one should ever have to go through something like that.
Giving it up
If Gerald had known about Valerie’s heartbreak, he never would have brought up the crib in the first place. However, if the mother had such a strong attachment to this piece of furniture, why did she give in and agree to sell it?
Despite her strong feelings, Watts believed that Kumpula would be able to do something beautiful with the crib. When he told her what he did for a living, it seemed like a sign that she should let go and hand over the furniture to the elderly stranger.
An awkward question
While Gerald had been entirely oblivious to what had happened to Noah, his wife, Lorene, wasn’t. She was also at the garage sale, and she struck up a conversation with the mother while looking at the baby clothes.
Lorene unintentionally stuck her foot in it when she asked Valerie how old her child was, not expecting the devastating answer she received. When Watts told her that Noah was stillborn, Gerald’s wife felt great sympathy for the woman. It turns out she knew what it was like to lose an unborn child.
Been in her shoes before
Lorene and Gerald are parents to a whopping 15 kids. They’re all grown up now, but the couple still remembers them all as if they were little. With so many children in their family, it was inevitable that grandkids would be in the Kumpula’s future.
However, while they were certainly a blessing, there was tragedy mixed in there too. Their first granddaughter was also stillborn, and the pain of losing her still sits with Lorene and Gerald. That’s why they were so affected by Valerie’s heartbreaking story.
Learning the truth
Although Gerald was initially unaware of what had happened to Noah, his wife clued him in after the garage sale. The story deeply moved the man, and he couldn’t shrug the pang of guilt he felt inside.
He knew at that moment that they had to return the crib to Valerie so she could continue to treasure the son she’d lost. However, they didn’t want to take the furniture back in its current state. Seeing the crib again would probably only bring on a fresh wave of heartbreak.
Working all week
Thankfully, given Gerald’s experience as a craftsman, transforming the crib wasn’t going to be that much of a challenge. The man knew how to turn the piece of furniture into something practical that would still hold all its sentimental value.
He got to work straight away and spent the next week putting in as many hours as possible in his workshop. It was a tiring job, but his desire to please Valerie motivated Kumpula. He wanted everything to be perfect for her after all that she’d been through.
Proud of his work
After many hours slaving away on the project, it was finally complete. Gerald had successfully turned Noah’s crib into a beautiful bench that Valerie could now use. He hoped the mother would appreciate its practicality and, more importantly, not be offended by what Kumpula had done.
The craftsman didn’t want Watts to be upset by seeing that the crib was no more, especially given everything the piece of furniture signified. However, he was quietly optimistic that she’d appreciate all the work he’d put in to transform Noah’s unused bed.
The moment of truth
The couple was nervous when they returned to Valerie’s house with the rejuvenated crib, but they had nothing to worry about. When the mother saw the bench that Gerald had created, she reportedly burst into tears.
Thankfully, they were happy tears. She was overwhelmed by what Kumpula had created and couldn’t believe he’d done this without being asked. There’d been no expectations on Gerald to transform the crib into anything for her benefit, but he’d done it anyway. Words couldn’t describe just how grateful she was to the man.
Rejecting her payment
After receiving the generous gift from the Kumpulas, Valerie offered to pay them for their services. However, Gerald and Lorene refused. They hadn’t done this expecting some kind of monetary reward; they merely wanted to give a grieving mother some piece of mind.
“It’s just nice to be able to do something for someone,” the craftsman said in light of his act of kindness. He understood the pain that Valerie was going through, and he was happy to lessen that burden. That meant more to him than a bit of cash.
On that day in 2014, the Kumpulas brought a ray of light into Watts’ life. Although her loss was still a lot for her to handle, she now had a place where she could try and deal with her grief. She set the bench near a bookcase that contained Noah’s ultrasound and his ashes.
As well as his footprints and handprints. It was like a little memorial corner for her stillborn son, and it allowed Valerie somewhere to sit whenever her emotions got the better of her.
Sharing her pain
The story of Valerie’s heartbreaking loss has resonated with many people. Around 24,000 babies are stillborn every year in the US, and for the parents affected by this, there’s no easy way to move past the pain.
All of them could understand the grief that Watts was suffering, particularly the mothers who’d been in her position before. A bond develops between mom and child before the pregnancy is over, which is why when a baby’s stillborn, it still hurts beyond belief. They’ve just lost a part of themselves.
A hero among men
Of course, even those who hadn’t experienced a stillbirth before felt great empathy for Valerie. That kind of pain isn’t something they’d wish on their worst enemy, let alone a woman who’d never done anything wrong.
That’s why Gerald received so much praise for his actions in the aftermath. They celebrated the man for doing this massive act of kindness without expecting anything in return. He’d proven himself to be the kind of person that others should look up to, especially in this day and age.
Dealing with her grief
It’s been several years since Valerie lost her baby boy, and the mother still lives with that immense pain. However, she’s found a way to move forward with her life and not let the grief consume her.
Gerald’s craftsmanship has been hugely influential in that because she now has the perfect place to remember her son. She no longer has his nursery locked off as she tries to forget what happened. Instead, Noah’s memorial corner takes pride of place in the house, and it’s made Watts a much happier mother.